Editor’s Note: This month, that is October 2019, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Mental Health And Well-Being, where we invite various articles narrating people’s experiences of living or living with someone with mental health issues. If you’d like to share your story, email us at email@example.com.
Trigger Warning: Suicidal Thoughts, Depression
This is largely a personal spiel of how and why I considered working on mental health, usually in general but very specifically on my own to the largest extent. I think since I can recall, I have been suicidal, there has not been any point to living. The earliest memory I have of suicide ideation I believe was when I was six, and I guess being good in sciences helped. Of course reading up on the neurology and a sort of separation of the brain and mind began much later around my teenage years where it was a time of me dealing with my mental health in a purely from a biological essentialist standpoint.
A range of years passed midway, I think about four till my suicidal tendencies took over. It was late 2016 I guess, I had returned from field work. That in itself was not tiring I guess. My relationship with my parents was going through a terrible time. It never had been amazing so as to say. It was then that I felt suicidal tendencies for what they were, it was just a constant buzz in your mind telling to kill yourself. I know it may seem funny to those who are reading it, to some others it might be an emotion that you might be able to empathise with. But this statement was written neither for anyone’s sympathy, empathy or even for a good laugh.
The idea that my brain could be stuck repeating just one single thing was terrifying. I couldn’t read, because if I was going to kill myself the next moment did it even matter. Something scarier though was showing it in public, I’ve had to run out of classrooms and just sit and breakdown in the washroom for hours for no reason. If you would ask me then, why I ran away? I wouldn’t have an answer. If you asked me why I wanted to kill myself, I would just be jealous that you could live and wanted to live another moment. Nothing worked really, sitting in my hostel room alone, sitting under the water tanker, lying under the sink any attempt to just sort of silence the mind numbing screeching sound which was stuck on its refrain of asking me to kill myself. Of course the whole symphony would play but that would just mean that I would imagine wonderfully gory ways to hurt myself even more than I was at that time, probably shouldn’t get into that in this piece.
Here I would want to draw the difference between my depression and the particular intense need to suicide. I had felt depression earlier, depression for me was like dropping me in the middle of an ocean filled with sadness.
Here I would want to draw the difference between my depression and the particular intense need to suicide. I had felt depression earlier, depression for me was like dropping me in the middle of an ocean filled with sadness. Wherever I would swim it would still be there, my body would be debilitated, there was nothing to do, nothing I ever did made any sense, nor did going ahead to do anything make sense. And the sadness seemed to be made out of some glutinous material for it was extremely hard to move. There would be times in between though when I could just get up and do work but it wasn’t such with the suicidal space that I was stuck in. The suicidal space that I was stuck in earlier was akin to a maze of rooms and in each room there were blackboards and metal screeching against metal, but the refrain would be revealed only to me for it was directed at me to kill myself.
It was then that I finally decided to go to a psychiatrist, it was simple enough procedure for them for I could lucidly explain what I was going through, my visions and my ability to endure extended periods of self harm. It was a diagnosis of Bipolar, schizophrenia, chronic depression and borderline split personality. Doesn’t hurt really to know more about oneself does it? I was immediately put on medication. Which now I was told I had to take for a lifetime. Kind of odd when you look at something like that, I literally have to spend at least four grand a month just to live and no one can see why is it that I am taking my medicine or even the medicines that I am taking. Of course systems are created such that any kind of visible reality is what one recognizes, if it is shrouded under even the thinnest veil then it’s fine most times.
I was doing social sciences then, from which I developed sociological understandings of mental health. Saw how social systems, relations and multiple other environmental factors affect mental health significantly. That is what I go by right now, I don’t reject the biological approach completely though since it did keep me alive for two more years for me to figure out these systems. As of now it is each one to their own, and what lets them be happier for a moment more. Of course in my usual conversation I would ask myself to define happiness, but here I choose not to and leave to the subjective reality of the reader.
As with all things systems need to change, unfortunately for better mental health there are a lot of systems that need to change. For my mental health is critically affected by systemized and legitimized oppression, so merely bringing in a safe space for one to discuss mental health or to take care of oneself would serve to be just an emergency measure. My mental health would still spiral out of control if things go too awry, of course there is much more that I can handle now and some things probably better. But now I’m fine with being suicidal that’s probably one of the first things I would tell you if you ever choose to talk to me. It is a certain sense of comfort that one finds with things I believe and with one’s own body and mind. Greater exploration as to who I am was sort of necessary to create this sense of comfort with being around me.
As with all things systems need to change, unfortunately for better mental health there are a lot of systems that need to change. For my mental health is critically affected by systemized and legitimized oppression, so merely bringing in a safe space for one to discuss mental health or to take care of oneself would serve to be just an emergency measure.
Also this is not to end it on the rhetoric of happiness where the nonsense advice that has been given to me, that I just need to start loving myself. To those, I don’t need to love myself. I still hate myself. I really don’t think people should be like me. I would hate it if someone had to go through things that I had gone through, even more so if they are alone in the journey. Which in most cases people are, for other refuse to understand or give terrible advice. I for now, am comfortable hating myself. I am comfortable knowing that I am going to be suicidal throughout my life. I am comfortable knowing that I will never be stable because I’m bipolar.
It’s been a long journey for me to be comfortable around me and you dare diss that, or diss anyone who is taking this journey. Your words mean nothing to me, these are demons that I have had to deal with. Of course there are a wonderful bunch of people who helped me on the way, though they would deny their involvement, they do mean the world to me. They were my flat mates in Hyderabad and another person with whom I used to take care of dogs and also ended up adopting two.
Which comes to my last part particularly for caregivers. When someone you know or love is having a breakdown, don’t take it on yourself, build support systems. One person alone cannot continuously take care of someone who is in this space. It can get immensely taxing for you and for the person going through hell as well. You as a caregiver would hate yourself for not being able to take good enough care for the person, and the people in this shit space would be feel even worse for making you feel bad. Also do pay attention these are just emergency measures they really wouldn’t make everything rosier for the person, it would be a brief space of clarity for one. Pardon me for talking about a person going through a breakdown in third person, but all of this would be true if the third person were replace by the first person.
If you read it till here, thank you very much. Though I still think people shouldn’t hang out with me. K bye.
Philip is a part time gender queer activist, who would in their spare time engage with academia not because it is particularly useful, but it’s fun for them. Working on mental health has also been a personal pet project of theirs, again for selfish reasons of trying to deal with their bipolar disorder and the other cocktail of mental health conditions they have. When there is enough time on their hands, goes on to do sex work, because who wouldn’t want money.
Featured Image Source: The Independent